Emerald Germs of Ireland

Last night my wife and I went to see Emerald Germs of Ireland, a play by the well-known Irish writer Pat McCabe, in the Ramor Theatre in Virginia. We’re very lucky that our small local theatre gets to host a lot of exceptional drama (including McCabe’s earlier The Dead School) – a world premiere in this instance.

Emerald Germs of Ireland is a bravura piece of work by McCabe and the two actors, Aaron Monaghan and Padraic McIntyre … a manic and surreal black comedy about the inner world and mocking demons of a farmer who lives with his elderly mother. Monaghan and McIntyre play a couple of dozen parts, changing deftly and instantaneously from one character to another with minimal (but often hilarious) use of costumes and props, assisted by strobe lighting and an eclectic musical soundtrack.

When my wife and I were walking into the bar at the interval, we happened to be beside Pat McCabe. My wife made a cheery remark to him, addressing him by his first name, and he proceeded to give us his thoughts and explain his possible misgivings about the play (which demands a lot from the audience, he feels), as if we were old friends … in fact we had never met him before.

That is how it is in Ireland, and that’s what Aaron Monaghan was alluding to in an interview about working on Broadway: “I’m finding it a little weird …When people come and talk to you [after the show] they treat you with a lot of respect you don’t necessarily deserve! Back home everyone is pretty much equal.”

The equality, the informality, the lack of emotional distance, are among the reasons we love this country, and why so many visitors feel at home here. It’s hard to pin down, but there is a sense of endless possibility … of giving randomness a chance. Talk to the stranger … he might just enhance your life in some small way, or vice versa.

And the great Irish theatrical tradition is alive and kicking, not just among the metropolitan elite but in rural outposts like ours, with the ordinary people. Long may it continue.

Author: Brendano

I am a 54-year-old freelance editor living in rural Ireland with my wife, Pauline; our 21-year-old daughter, Susanna (when she’s not away at university); and two terriers. Our son, Sean, died suddenly on 17 October 2010, aged 19.

5 thoughts on “Emerald Germs of Ireland”

  1. Yes it is always a pleasant surprise in Ireland to be treated like old friends even by complete strangers

  2. Lovely post Brendano. I’ve always had a love affair with Ireland and the Irish. I have visited several times and the welcome is warmer with each visit. If I moved from England, I think I’d cross the Irish sea.

  3. We have a couple of very good friends in Cork Brendano and when they came to visit us recently, this is exactly what we were talking about. Sadly they agreed though that spiralling house prices, unemployment and other negative factors were making that famous Irish welcoming hospitality less frequent although nowhere near the levels of South East England.
    Saying hello to a stranger in that part of the world would be met with a greatdeal of suspicion.

  4. Thanks, valzone … nice of you to say so, and I’m glad you liked the post.

    I’m sure you make it very easy to welcome you. 🙂

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